A Beautiful Hybrid Design

March 24th, 2011

Do you like the look of log homes? What about timber frame? If designed properly, a hybrid log and timber home can provide a unique look that you just can’t get with only log or just timber.

Upland RetreatOne great example of this hybrid log-and-timber approach is the Upland Retreat, a 2,260 sq. ft. home that offers nearly as much outdoor living space thanks to its 1,996 sq. ft. of decks and patios. The design combines rustic handcrafted logs and custom timber trusses. Its unique nature is evident even before you get inside. Four entryways, including the large covered patio, all feature timber trusses, supported by natural-profile logs. A combination of timber and stacked stone are seen on the patio. Inside, timber trusses and purlins are featured in the second-story bedrooms and the dramatic, vaulted great room. Whether log or timber, the wood elements of the Upland Retreat create beautiful frames for the expanses of glass that offer stunning views from every room.

When planning your log home, consider including timber framing to help express your unique version of mountain style. Visit our floor plan gallery for more examples of these dramatic hybrid log and timber homes.

Favorite Log Home Plans

February 25th, 2011

We wanted to showcase some of our log home plans and asked Darci, who’s been with PrecisionCraft for 6 years, what some of her favorite designs were. Here are the plans she choose and what she had to say about them.

“We have so many great plans, so it was hard to choose just a few.  I like plans of all sizes, so here are my favorite designs in each square foot range.”

Top 5 Log Floor PlansThe Cumberland – I like the Cumberland because it has a smaller foot print and would be perfect for a second home or retirement home.  It makes me feel like it has been in its surroundings for many years with its rustic and oversized handcrafted logs.

The Saratoga – Although the Saratoga looks large in the rendering, the actual square footage is less than 2,500 sq. ft.  The vaulted ceilings, shed dormers and the extensive covered porch give the home a grander feel.  I can envision the homeowners enjoying each season from that wrap-around porch.

The Prairie Hill – To me, the main draw of the Prairie Hill floor plan is it’s large master on the main level which includes a den and private deck.  There is also a large covered porch which surrounds the great room, and that is always nice.

The Big Sky – The Big Sky’s large foyer makes a statement as soon as you walk in the door. As one of our larger plans, the Big Sky does not waste any space.  Interesting angles, like the hexagonal space that houses the Nook, keep the plan flowing from one space to the other.

The Allegheny – The Allegheny is another one with a large master suite, however; this one includes a private screened in porch which I think a lot of people will enjoy.   Although you can’t see it from the rendered elevation, there is a large deck which  stretches around the back elevation and includes a sun room.  This plan, which is our larges conceptual log home plan, includes three levels with a full basement including a family room & guest suite.

Designing Your Home to a Budget

January 27th, 2011

What is your budget for your custom home?
When you answer this question what do you include?  Each stage of your project typically has its own price tag.  Stages include: the purchase of your land, improvements to the land (i.e. septic, roads, utilities), the design process, materials, construction, finishes and landscaping. Although you can attach a price to each stage, don’t get caught without a complete understanding of your total cost and a how each piece fits into that cost.

Land Purchase and Improvements
In almost any project, the cost of your land (and any site improvements that need to be made) is separate from everything else that will go into the production of your home. Unless you are getting your land and your home from a development, your custom home builder will not factor the cost of the land into any bids they provide.  Knowing that cost is separate, many ask the question “Should I buy my land before or after I have a design?.”  There are certainly advantages to buying land ahead of time, for instance, you can pay for the land and use that equity to help finance your building project.  Also if you invest in the land a few years prior to building, you may have more money to allocate to the home itself.  There are however some issues that can arise if you purchase before you have a design ready.  If the land you are looking at is in a difficult location to reach, you may have unexpected transportation costs.  If the land is steeply sloped or odd shaped, you may have to compromise your ideal layout for one that fits better on your property.

The Design Process
The most important stage in the creation of your custom wood home is the design process. It is during the design phase where you and your architect will set the size of your home, the complexity of the design, and the type of materials that will be used.  Each of these design aspects (size, complexity and materials) will have varying affects on your home’s final cost.  As an example, let’s say that Jim and Jill start the design process looking to build a 2,500 sq.ft. log and timber hybrid with lots of roof lines and gables and unique trusses.  Their architect takes all of their desires into account along with their complete budget for the completion of their home (or turnkey budget) and goes to work.  Through the course of the design process their architect is not only working on the design but looking at the costs along the way.  He gets in contact and recommends some changes to the design.  He tells them that the turnkey cost is going to be more than their budget and provides options for their project. If they want to stay on budget they will either need to reduce the size to about 2,100 sq.ft., remove some of the complexity in the roofline, or reduce some of the timber frame materials.  Jim and Jill talk about their options and decide to get rid of some of the size, which will also reduce the roof lines enough to get within their budget.  They now have a home design they love, at a price that they can afford to build.

Materials
A common mistake buyers of timber and log homes make is to key in on the price of a materials package, instead of looking at the complete price of an actual home.  Many log producers will quote the price of their package (which could include just the wood or all the materials to create a dry-in shell).  There is nothing wrong with that, however, if the package price is the only number you have to go by, it requires more work to determine exactly how much your completed home will cost.  The log and timber materials could be from 15% to 50% of the total cost of your custom home.  This is why it is very difficult to try and allocate a specific portion of your budget to the logs out of context.  It is better to use the amount of log and timber that works best for your design and your budget as a whole.  Always think in terms of your complete house, not just a log or timber shell cost.

Construction
The delivery and stack of your logs does not end in a completed house.  Someone will need to construct the rest of your home, including the electrical, plumbing, roof, masonry etc.  If you concentrated on the cost of your log or timber shell and did not leave enough money for the actual construction, you could be in trouble.  This all goes back to making sure that your architect prepared you and your design for this stage of the project.

Finishes and Landscaping
Will you have hardwood floors or carpet in your custom home?  Do you prefer a basic electric stove or something more sophisticated?  What kind of landscaping will need to be completed once your home is done? If your architect has done their job, you will have money set aside in your budget to cover the level of finishes (both interior and exterior) that you planned for during the design process.

Just remember, if you are always looking at the entire custom home building process, you can have more confidence in your ability to meet your budget goals each step of the way as well as overall.  It is absolutely imperative that you choose an architect / company who thinks and acts this way too.

Designing Great Rooms with a View

December 23rd, 2010

One of the most important spaces in your timber or log home design will be your great room. Not only is the layout significant, but you should also understand how your great room will interact with the outdoors.  Most log homes are built in beautiful settings; some overlook lakes while others take in the surrounding forest.  Many  log home designs also include patios or decks that extend directly from the great room itself.  Therefore it is necessary to explore all aspects of your great room’s design, in order to get the most out of the total space.
Detail of Winter Park Floor Plan - PrecisionCraftA Traditional Log Home Prow

You have probably seen a number of log homes with a similar design to the Winter Park, pictured left.  The great room vaults in a triangular manner with trapezoidal windows and glass doors providing the magnificent open view.  This idea is very popular for a reason.  It provides a nice open space, which often has a loft above it, and lets everyone take in the incredible views.

Detail of the Dakota Floor Plan - PrecisionCraft

A Timber Frame Variation

This timber frame home example, the Dakota, also has a vaulted great room with a wall of windows.  In this instance, the design goes beyond the triangular forms of a traditional prow by including angles that replicate those found through the rest of the design.  The custom timber frame trusses which span from the entry through the great room, extend out to the great room patio where square timbers frame the glass windows.

Modern Glass Walls

The Shenandoah concept, below, bucks the trend in vaulted great rooms.  However, this single story plan is still able to create a unique great room space through the use of glass walls. With handcrafted character logs as corner posts, the Shenandoah’s great room has a full glass wall with two half glass walls to each side.  When relaxing in the cozy living area, the outdoors are not just viewable, they seem to be a part of the entire space.

Detail of the Shenadoah Floor Plan - PrecisionCraft

For anyone who wants to make an impression with the design of their great room, the classic glass prow, while still amazing, is not the only way to create an amazing space.  Visit our floor plan gallery for more great room design ideas.

How to Get the Design You Want

December 2nd, 2010

How do you get the design you want? There are many answers to that question, but today we are going to focus on how to modify an existing floor plan idea or concept into a plan that has a layout which works for your family, is constructed from the materials that you prefer, and fits into your budget range.

In the Beginning. . . 

If you are going to modify an existing plan.  First you have to find the plan to work from.  There are three basic elements to your timber or  log home design: layout, architectural look, and the product (log or timber) used to construct it.  Try to find a design that meets your basic needs or desires in one or more of these categories.  The best option is to find  designs that come close to your needs in all three areas, even if you have to find three different plans.  If you can show your architect the type of layout, choice of material,  and a basic style preference, the design process will progress quickly.

Layout

Blue Ridge Layout ExampleModifying the layout of a log home design depends on the quality of your architectural firm.  A custom home is not the same as a log cabin kit plan.  Let’s assume you are working with a group that is capable of making any kind of update you want.  If you have a layout that is close or contains the basic footprint of what you are looking for, modifying that plan to fit your exact needs is easy.  Below is an example of how a client of ours modified our Blue Ridge Floor Plan Concept.

Learn more about Adjusting the Layout of any Log Home Floor Plan.

Product Selection

The look of your home and the cost to build it will be greatly affected by the type of log or timber you choose as construction materials.  Do you prefer log, timber or a combination?  Do you like handcrafted or milled logs?  If you find a layout or style of home you like, that design can be redesigned using the product combination you prefer.  This is important to understand when you are searching through all of the floor plans.  For instance, don’t neglect a section of plans just because there were originally designed as timber instead of log. Here is an example of how a plan can be redesigned.  View more product options.

Blue Ridge Layout Example

Complexity of Architectural Design

Most people think about the size of a plan and many understand that handcrafted logs, for instance, look differently and cost more than milled logs.  Complexity of design, however, is a concept that the majority of custom home builders don’t think about right off.  Complexity can be seen, but not easily articulated.  Comparing a rendering which shows multiple roof lines, angled sections and lots of corners has a different look and feel than a home with four walls and a single roof line.  Learn more about complexity of timber and log home designs.

Log Home Complexity Example

Your Final Design

By better understanding what you prefer, what is possible, and how these changes affect your final home and it’s cost, you will be much more likely to get the design you really want.